His career as Britain’s number one warm-up guy means he’s ‘always the bridesmaid and never the bride’, but Aylesbury’s Andy Collins has a job and lifestyle that would be the envy of most.
Last year he performed in the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, he’s played Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena.
He’s had his own prime time television series, worked at the Diana concert Princes William and Harry arranged for the 10th anniversary of their mother’s death, his best friends include television and music stars, and last year he proudly took his parents to Buckingham Palace.
Andy said: “They say ‘make hay while the sun shines’. It’s been sunny for more than 15 years so I can’t complain, but it comes at a price.
“That price is sitting at home on your own on a Thursday night with a glass of wine.
“If I could do it all again I’d split my time more.
“But it’s hard to turn down work. I was in caveman mode thinking I must provide for my family.”
This makes Andy sound maudlin, when truly he is not.
He’s an upbeat, glass half full guy, and has a fabulous relationship with his former partner Chantelle who now lives in Bedgrove with their two children Molly and Harry and her new partner and their baby.
He’s a true family man, too.
The garden at his home in Broughton has a tree house and a Wendy house, and he’s getting the garage converted into a full blown games room for his children. He takes them to school twice a week and has them for evenings and weekends.
And Holly, nine, is appearing in panto with her dad at the Waterside for the second year running this Christmas.
“She auditioned both times,” he said proudly.
“And I’ve written in a little scene for her and I on stage together with dialogue.”
Andy’s father worked in showbusiness, appeared at the Palladium and worked alongside Tommy Cooper, Jim Davidson and Michael Barrymore.
So when, after five years working in the navy and the army, Andy decided to try his hand at showbusiness, his father, by then an agent, was on hand to help him.
Andy said: “We came up with a 45-minute act and he got me working in all the social clubs, places where you have to learn how to die and to make them laugh.
“I scratched a living for a couple of years but it was a great lesson.”
From those inauspicious beginnings Andy’s career has snowballed and now he is considered to be the number one warm-up guy in the light entertainment world.
He’s warmed up audiences for Graham Norton, Jonathan Ross, Donny Osmond, Paul O’Grady and Ant and Dec – the latter two being real friends.
“We belong to a group called the Chiswick Massive,” said Andy.
“It includes naval mates, record producers, tv executives, a painter and decorator.
“I am honoured that all of them are my friends, there are no airs and graces. We meet up to play golf and go on holiday together once a year.”
Andy has many strings to his bow.
In addition to being a warm-up, he is a presenter and had his own show, Family Fortunes on ITV for two years.
He also appears in panto, and is involved in many touring arena shows including Dancing On Ice.
Because he gets so much work he also started his own consultancy to pass on work he couldn’t fit in himself, and so now he supports other warm-up artists.
He said: “Warm-up is tough, you are always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
“There is a lot of protocol involved, dealing with the star and producers. But it’s not difficult like working down the coal mines, it’s mentally testing.”
With his diary for 2014 already half full he’s looking forward to Christmas at the Waterside with Sleeping Beauty, where he plays Chester the Jester.
It’s his third panto at the theatre and he said: “I always make time for panto, I love it. And the Waterside is an amazing theatre, and my local theatre.”